Wills & Probate
Let us be clear - everybody should make a Will particularly if they have any property as part of their assets. Not doing so can lead to lots of costs for those who have to deal with matters when you are gone.
Despite soaring house prices over the last decade pushing people ever closer to that inheritance tax threshold, the vast majority of us do not have to worry about complicated tax planning schemes. If that is necessary, then we will review matters with you and give a fair estimate of what is going to be involved. In the case of a Will, we will agree with you at the initial meeting a fee for the work we are going to do. Our fees start from £150 plus VAT @ 20% = £180 for a single Will and £250 plus VAT @ 20% = £300 for a couple.
The Law Society recommends using a solicitor to write your Will and says,
"Although it is possible to write a will without a solicitor's help, this is generally not advisable as there are various legal formalities you need to follow to make sure that your will is valid. Without the help of an expert, there's a real risk you could make a mistake, which could cause problems for your family and friends after your death."
When it comes to dealing with the estate of a deceased person, the amount of work involved will differ depending upon the different assets and the different requirements that the Will has set up, but that does not mean to say we cannot give a realistic estimate of what it is likely to cost.
We do not do scale fees. Frankly, they are an unfair way of charging for the work that is involved, given that usually the most significant asset is the home.
FIXED FEES WORK
In many instances you may only need apply for a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration if there is a property involved. If there is a Will and if a Grant is not needed, we offer a fixed price fee of £750 plus VAT @ 20% = £900 for dealing with matters for the Executor.
If a Will has been made and a Grant is needed and where the value of the deceased estate means inheritance tax is not payable then we offer a fixed price fee of £750 plus VAT @ 20% = £900 for obtaining a Grant.
In addition to our fees there will be Probate Court fees, Oath fees and Bankruptcy fees which will depend on the value of the estate.
Full Estate Administration Services
This involves identifying the assets of the estate, valuing the assets and liabilities, completing the Inheritance Tax Return and signing of the Oath, applying for the Grant, collecting in the assets, settling liabilities from the estate assets and finally, distributing the estate proceeds to the beneficiaries.
A realistic estimate for the administration of a simple estate; involves approximately 10 hours in dealing with matters at between £150 and £240 per hour plus VAT @ 20%. The overall costs are likely to be between £2,000 - £3,000 plus VAT plus disbursements.
The final cost will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter. For example, if there is one beneficiary, costs will be towards the lower end of the scale. If there are multiple beneficiaries, a range of financial assets and multiple bank accounts, then costs will be at the higher end of the scale.
We consider a 'Simple Estate' as one where:
- There is a valid UK Will
- There is no more than one freehold/leasehold property
- There are no more than five bank or building society accounts
- There are no more than three intangible assets, such as Stocks & Shares, Unit and Investment Trusts
- There are between one and three beneficiaries
- There are no disputes between beneficiaries or claims against the estate.
- The estate is not subject to Inheritance Tax
- No Inheritance Tax Return is required to be prepared and sent to HMRC.
On average, estates which fall within this range are dealt with within 4-6 months. Typically, obtaining the Grant of probate takes 8-10 weeks. We can then obtain and distibute the assets, which normally takes a further 6-8 weeks.
if the estate is more complex than the outlined above, then additional costs may be incurred. This is likely to arise where:
- There is no valid Will.
- There is more than one freehold/leasehold property.
- There are more then five bank or building society accounts.
- The deceased held various Stocks & Shares, Unit or Investment Trusts.
- The deceased held an interest in a business.
- There are substantial life time gifts or chargeable transfers which require tracing and investigation.
- An Inheritance Tax Account is required to be sent to HMRC.
- The estate is liable to Inheritance Tax.
- The deceased was a beneficiary of a Trust.
- We are asked to finalise the deceased's Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax position to the date of death and/or during the period of administration.
On average, estates that fall within this range are dealt with 6-9 months with the obtaining of the Grant taking between 10-16 weeks and then obtaining and distribution of the assets taking a further 10-12 weeks.
If there are disputes as to the validity of the Will or indeed, between the beneficiaries or claims made against the estate by former partners, spouses or others then this would not fall within normal estate services but would be dealt with as a contentious Probate matter as to which a realistic cost estimate can be given once detailed information is known about the issues involved. This would be dealt with under litigation procedures.